Five things I learned on my book tour.

Five weeks, eleven cities, fourteen book talks, nine media appearances, twenty-one regular talks, Phew. I got so tired it felt as though gravity was messing with me, or as if  I’d been inexpertly inflated. Also exhilarating: a nationwide network of pro-aging activists came out to support me and spread the word—thank you thank you thank you. Also educational;  I learned a lot.

  • How to pronounce Buttigieg: Buddha + tszuj (as in “jujj,” as in “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”). Source: NPR’s age beat reporter Ina Jaffe, and she ought to know.
  • African-Americans are two to three times likelier than whites to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “The disparities are explained by its association with poverty,” said USC’s Karen D. Lincoln, much of whose work focuses on educating African Americans about the disease.
  • The best way to answer “how old are you?”  Say, “I was born in 1952” (if you’re my age). The questioner spazzes because they can’t do the math. You’ve answered forthrightly. And without a number with
  • without a number to peg assumptions to, the questioner is left to reflect on how much you’ve seen and done, free of any ageist connotations. 
  • Another problem with “agelessness”: I’m no fan of the word because of its inherent age denial. A woman at a reading in Seattle added, “I think saying you’re ageless is like saying you’re colorblind.” Boom. Because if you “don’t see race,” you don’t see racism.
  • The anti-ageism movement is talking tactics. Ten years ago I spent most of my time explaining what ageism is and why it matters. Now all kinds of people—from librarians in Denver to Age-Friendly organizers in San Francisco to architects in Pittsburgh—are asking how to make their efforts explicitly anti-ageist. We pro-agers transitioning from talking to doing—and that’s exciting.
Rabble-rousing at UC Berkeley — what better place?

3 thoughts on “Five things I learned on my book tour.

  1. Re: ‘The best way to answer “How old are you?” Say, “I was born in 1952”’

    I have always been of the opinion that if we do not answer the question outright and instead dodge saying your age out loud, you are only perpetuating the myth that being older is something to hide or to be ashamed of. Tell them you are 67, and during the rest of the conversation, show them how young, and vibrant, and with it 67 can actually be. Change their preconceptions of what that age looks like. Not to mention you can’t tell exactly how old someone is by the year alone, you need to know when their birthday is as well.

  2. Love the way this blog and all your work challenges ageism but using the term ‘spazzes’ real jars with me – it’s ablist (or disablist as we say in the UK) and not worthy of your blog.

    1. You are so right; thanks for calling me out. I’ll let the word stand in this post but will not use it again.

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